Gotham City Monsters #1 // Review
Pardon the expression, but Gotham City Monsters #1 is a strange beast. It’s an exciting concept, and it’s executed relatively competently. At the same time, however, it seems both beholden to the line-wide continuity of the DC Universe. In a way that might turn off new readers, while also feeling strangely disconnected from it.
The book is set in Monstertown, a neglected borough of Gotham City that’s nestled among kaiju bones, and home to so-called “monsters,” like Killer Croc and his landlord, Tusk (a sort-of anthropomorphic elephant). Since the DCU’s covert organizations have been dismantled over in Event Leviathan, Frankenstein is no longer an Agent of S.H.A.D.E. and has come to Monstertown on private matters. He soon joins up with Lady Clayface, Killer Croc, Andrew Bennet (aka I, Vampire), and Orca to stop the newly resurrected Martian vampire Melmoth.
Writer Steve Orlando writes some great misfits and putting him on a title with such a bizarre cast already pays off in dividends. Orlando uses a nice bit of Gotham City history by using the Mad Monk as a minor antagonist in the book. At the same time, though, the lack of any major bat-presence in this Gotham-set book makes it seem like a title that can be quickly and easily ignored, much like the short-lived Gotham By Midnight title of a few years ago.
Newcomer artist Amancay Nahuelpan, along with colorist Trish Mulvihill and letterer Tom Napolitano, is well-suited to this pseudo-horror book. The art isn’t terribly scary, more a baroque sort of creepy. Nahuelpan and Mulvihill create an ornate, Burton-esque world where Frankenstein’s bizarre uniform suddenly seems like everyday streetwear, and it’s delicious.
With its team of antihero misfits working together in a world where the grotesque lives side-by-side with the so-called normal, this book is a better Angel series than the actual Angel comic over at Boom! Studios, and would scratch the itch of fans of that property. It’s a shame that, so far anyway, it feels so separate from the magic side of the DCU.